The federal opposition have put a lot of effort into criticising the national broadband network.  It doesn't make logical sense because the people who stand to benefit most are those in the rural seats that make up the heartland of National and Liberal voters.

The criticism seems to fall into the following camps:

  1. The market would naturally build this infrastructure due to demand for technology.
  2. It will only be used to download movies.
  3. It is too expensive.

Market forces alone will not build a piece of infrastructure like the NBN.  Market forces are driven by profit.  It would be only natural to set up in densely populated suburbs and area where business demands would mean a decent return for your investment.  The problem is that small towns in rural areas are nowhere near as profitable and will either miss out altogether or are a long way behind the city counterparts.  A project like the NBN should be for the benefit of all.  It may an old fashioned idea but market forces won't do that, but government intervention can.

The NBN is far more useful than simply speeding up movie downloads. That is a simplistic and myopic view of a what fast broad band can do. 

The potential uses for remote medicine alone are enormous.  Scanned x-rays in a rural hospital can be easily given a second opinion from a major city hospital.  Surgery performed on a patient in Alice Springs by a surgeon based in Perth via robot could technically be done using fast broadband.

Cloud computing has gone from arcane to buzzword. Something as simple as backing up data to cloud server is quite possible these days.  It makes good sense to back up precious data off site in case disaster strikes.  I have a backup system for my data but that back up system is based in the same building.  The size of the backup files comes to around 1.5 terabytes.  A full backup on my current ADSL connection of that size to a cloud would take about 7 months.  On an NBN plan from the same ISP, I could do that in just over a week for a similarly priced plan.  That technology will evolve and the network will expand and get faster.  In the coming years most people will be backing up to cloud servers. 

A few years ago we all groaned when Microsoft released a 50meg download for Internet Explorer.  We all groaned because it left us with a long slow download on dial up connections. The landlinw was tied up for several hours. 

Nowadays, operating systems are downloaded on a regular basis.  One needs to look no further than Ubuntu or Apple's OSX Lion.  There are plenty of other examples.

A NBN will make working from home a lot easier with a secure VPN tunnel over fast internet. Surely a mobile, more flexible workforce is good for the econony. 

Another great benefit is the NBN could well level the gap between rural and city areas.  Many rural areas have slow or non existent internet. This puts them at a considerable disadvantage to their metropolitan counterparts.

A national broaband accessible to all Australians is of a great benefit for current uses, not to mention unthought of uses in the future.